Giants coach Tom Coughlin admitted Wednesday he was “very disappointed” to lose tight end Jake Ballard on waivers, while New England coach Bill Belichick sloughed off the idea he violated one of the league’s unwritten rules in picking up the injured tight end.
“First of all, there aren’t any unwrittens,” Belichick said, via ESPNBoston.com. “You can’t negotiate a contract, release him, and then re-negotiate another contract with him that was already done in advance. I’m sure the Giants weren’t doing that. So the player is on waivers, he’s on waivers — ours or anybody else’s. I don’t know what unwrittens you’re talking about.
“Any time you put a player on waivers, you know there are 31 teams out there that can take him if they want him. We all know that. There is no secrets about that.”
Belichick’s explanation comes as no surprise.
Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News wrote that Coughlin “clearly wasn’t pleased,” but the question remains who he’s aggravated at.
The facts in the case are fairly simple.
The Giants were trying to stash a talented but injured player on IR, but they didn’t want to carry him on the roster until cuts started in August. Assuming the league would allow them to do so was, in hindsight, a mistake. Ballard tore his ACL in the Super Bowl (and also needed microfracture surgery), and won’t be ready until 2013. For paying him $540,000 to not play this season, New England retains his exclusive rights next year.
So in exchange for one of their 90 spots in June, the Giants lost a player who caught 38 passes for 604 yards and four touchdowns last year.
“Discouraged is a minor description,” Coughlin said. “Very disappointed. I don’t have a lot to say about that. Just the fact that we’re disappointed. Very disappointed.”
Asked why they didn’t just carry him for another two months, Coughlin replied: “Don’t ask me those questions. I don’t have the answers for you. We’re all disappointed. That’s all.”
Giants General Manager Jerry Reese wasn’t quoted, but two things seem clear from this point: The Giants won’t take any chances anytime soon when trying to stash a player, and the Patriots better not try the same tactic, having alerted the league to their indifference to the “unwritten rules.”